Survival Myths That Can Put You in Danger of Dying – Survival Quiz

I was recently watching a show where the character was lost in the woods and looked for moss growing on a tree so that he could figure out his direction. I had always heard this survival tip but I began to wonder if it was really sound advice or one of those myths that has lingered simply because everyone accepted it as fact. Thinking some more on the subject, I wondered what other erroneous survival tips were floating around masquerading as truth.

Top Five Survival Myths

After some research, I came up with five survival myths that are perpetuated either because they have been around for so long or because no one ever questions the validity of the statements. Of course, there are many more but these seemed to be the most prevalent myths that could place someone in danger if they didn’t know any better.

1)      “Moss always grows on the north side of a tree; therefore, it can serve as a guide for which direction you want to head towards.”


Survival Myths Moss on Tree

Moss can grow on any side of a tree (north, south, east, west) depending on how much moisture it needs and shade. So, if you are lost in the wilderness, it is not a reliable indicator of direction. If you do get lost it’s far better to stay put and wait for help to arrive than blindly walk around expending needed energy. (Keep in mind that you should always let someone know if you are heading out into the wild blue yonder and when you will return)

Don’t count on your cell phone to save you, as they can lose reception or run out of battery. You should also carry a compass and actually know how to use it ahead of time. As a backup method, learn navigation skills including wind direction, sun location, and star locations.

2)      Water from natural sources such as rivers and streams is safe to drink.


Survival Myths Natural Water Safe to Drink

Just because you find a natural water source doesn’t mean that the water is safe to drink. In fact, serious illnesses can occur from drinking unpurified water. Lakes, rivers, and streams are full of bacteria, parasites, animal waste, chemical run-off, and other contaminants. All water should be purified through boiling, water purification treatment drops/tabs, or a water filter that eliminates all cysts, viruses, and bacteria.

Always carry a supply of extra water and a portable water filter, as well as purifying drops in the event you find yourself without a clean source of water. This applies whether you are heading into the wild or traveling down the road. It’s easy to keep these supplies in an emergency kit in your car or an everyday carry bag. While you can last three weeks without food, you can only live three days without water.

3)  Plants can be a good source of food when you are in the woods or wilderness.


Survival Myths Wild Plants are Safe to Eat

This is one of the survival myths that can be the most deadly because there is simply too much room for error unless you are an expert. The number of poisonous plants, berries, and mushrooms far outweighs the number of safe plants and weeds that humans can eat. Identifying safe, wild edibles takes learning, practice, and skill. The potential for some type of plant to poison you or make you sick is quite high, not to mention that wild edibles will likely not be enough sustenance in a survival situation.

To avoid this calamity, always carry an extra food source such as energy bars or ration bars and ideally, you should never go anywhere in the wilderness without carrying enough basic survival supplies for three days, including food and water.

4)  Hypothermia only happens in cold weather or winter.


Survival Myths Hypothermia Only Happens in Winter

This is one of the least thought about survival myths, but one of the most important.  Hypothermia can occur in any season, even in the summer. Hikers exposed to a cool summer rain or dense fog can become chilled and lose body heat quickly because it may take several hours to warm up completely. Boaters are at risk due to exposure to cold water temperatures and wearing wet clothes for long periods of time.

To combat hypothermia in any situation, always pack extra dry clothing and a few sturdy Mylar space blankets for warmth. In addition, a small tarp and rope or tube tent can be packed for use as a quick shelter from rain and wind in case of a sudden downpour. Nearly 1300 people die of hypothermia related deaths each year – don’t be one of them.

5)  Building your shelter on higher ground will keep you warmer, avoid valleys and lower areas.


Survival Myths Build Shelter on High Ground

Higher elevations also have more exposure to wind and the resulting wind chill, which means that it can actually be several degrees cooler on higher ground. In addition, it’s much harder to build and maintain a fire when the wind carries the heat away from you and burns your fuel faster. Your best bet is to locate your shelter in a dry area protected from the elements, including wind.

Now that you know the truth behind these survival myths, next time you head out into the wild, make sure that you know basic survival skills ahead of time. 


Wilderness Survival QuizTest Your Survival Skills

Question #1: Insect larvae contains a lot of protein. Where are the best places to find these insect eggs?

Insect eggs can be found in moist areas under rocks and inside rotten tree logs or stumps.

Question #2: Why should you try to avoid sleeping directly on the ground?

Sleeping on the ground can lead to loss of body heat. You'll retain more warmth by piling grass or pine needles on the ground to sleep on.

Question #3: Which crucial need you should first address if you are lost in the woods during a thunderstorm?

Shelter from the elements is your first priority. Hypothermia can set in within 20 minutes, shelter will keep you from losing more heat and allow you to raise your body temperature. Once your shelter has been established you can focus on water, then food.

Question #4: What do lush vegetation and swarming insects often indicate?

Plant life, insects, bird flight paths and animal tracks can all point toward water sources.

Question #5: In a survival scenario, you should avoid eating insects that ____.

Brightly colored, or strong smelling insects are a clear warning sign for you to avoid, many are poisonous.

Question #6: What’s the LEAST important survival tool for a novice in a jungle scenario?

The ability to shelter yourself from the elements, start a fire, clear brush, defend yourself, and provide clean drinking water are the most important tools. A compass is a very important tool, however if you are lost, the most recommended strategy is to shelter in place for those who will be looking for you.

Question #7: On Average, How Many Days Can You Survive Without Water?

The human body begins severe dehydration, that leads to death in 3 days.

Question #8: Which symptom determines if you are experiencing SEVERE dehydration?

Dry mouth and a rapid heartbeat is a sign for moderate dehydration. Vomiting and diarrhea is a strong indication for severe dehydration.

Question #9: Why should you melt snow or ice before drinking it?

Eating frozen snow and ice will reduce your core body temperature and can lead to dehydration.

Question #10: How long can a healthy human go without food as long as they have water?

A healthy person, properly hydrated, can last up to 8 weeks without food. This is not to say that they will be able to operate as they normally would with food. The starvation process will leave you without energy and unable to perform basic survival tasks.

Question #11: What feature of the snake is NOT used to determine if the snake is venomous?

Tongue. Venomous snakes tend to have elliptical pupils, while non-venomous snakes have round pupils. This is not foolproof though, as the venomous coral snake has round pupils. Not to mention you don't want to get that close to a snake to find out!

Question #12: In an emergency situation, drinking small amounts of salt water will keep you from dehydrating until fresh water can be found.

Drinking any amount of salt water will further dehydrate you and in larger quantities cause organ failure.

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